Although environmental impact has no direct relation to the success of your studying for grad school, it is still important information for a lot of graduate students. When considering the impact of eBooks and paper books on the environment, you must consider not only the energy and resources expended to make them, but also the energy and resources expended to get them to you. Paper books are created by cutting down trees and delivered to you through fossil fuels; however, electronics used to read eBooks are often made with conflict minerals and are powered by fossil fuels. Libraries and used bookstores are the most sustainable choices for reading, but they do not always have the rarer and more specific texts that grad students often need.
Sources and studies about the environmental impact of eBooks versus paper books have been largely inconclusive as they conflict with one another. Some studies indicate that you would need to read between 23 and 40 eBooks per year to make eBooks the better environmental option. However, dedicated eReaders, using eInk, are a more sustainable option than tablets or computers for reading eBooks.